14 Ways to Get Ahead in Your Internship — From Kim Ciesla

[To comment:larry@larrylitwin.com]

Was surfing the Web this a.m. and ran into this incredible advice from Rowan University public relations graduate and Gold Medallion recipient Kim Ciesla, now with Anne Klein Communications Group. Heed Kimmie’s advice. It will serve you well. Let’s call this a “long” retweet.

(Originally written Tuesday, October 13, 2009)

Before you get there:

1. Know the dress code: There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up in tights when the company’s policy is no tights. And showing up business casual when the dress is really more corporate business attire? Not fun. So do your homework–send your supervisor a quick email asking for a copy of the dress code.

2. Be prepared for research: A lot of interns are required to do research. If you work for an agency, your first day will probably be ALL research so you can familiarize yourself with company clients.

3. Realize that what you give, is what you’ll get: If you work hard, arrive on time (or early) and work diligently, your hard work will be rewarded.

While you’re there:

4. Ask for feedback: Why? Because it shows you care about your job performance. Also, your ability to handle constructive criticism will be noticed and could get you better projects or opportunities in the future.

5. Be proactive: Instead of tweeting all day when you have nothing to do, ask for something to do. Don’t be afraid to ask for projects you’d like to work on. Most of the time your boss will be willing to give you the experience you ask for.

6. Get to the point: When asked to do research for your boss, highlight main points, email articles–anything to make their job easier. Brief them on the most important things they wanted first, then accompany the research with additional info if requested, or in an email so they can refer back to it.

7. Keep a record: Of what you do, the number of hours you intern, etc. It will help when you notice on your Field Experience syllabus that you were supposed to have a log of what you’ve done! It will also give you something to refer back to when updating your resume.

8. Make a contact list: Take note of the people you work around, even if you only meet them once or twice. Get their emails, phone numbers, their twitter name…anything. Stay in contact. You never know when their expertise could come in handy.

9. Keep track of the computer programs you use: Companies find it valuable when interns and potential employees don’t have to be trained in certain areas. Almost everyone is proficient in Word, Excel and PowerPoint by now. So skip it on your resume. Instead, incorporate the unique programs you’ve learned along the way.

10. Use tools to your advantage: The tools you use on a daily basis at your internship could make your life a lot easier in the long run. Create media lists. Utilize the PR Newswire, etc.

11. Ask questions: It shows your paying attention and that you care about doing the task at hand correctly.

12. Take notes: So you don’t ask the same questions twice!

When you leave:

13. Know your limits: If you’re a blogger, are you allowed to blog about the internship? What are your limitations? What’s confidential information? You wouldn’t want to leak something or put something out on the World Wide Web for everyone to see if it’s not supposed to leave the office.

14. Take advantage of outside opportunities: Trade shows, samplings, corporate events. All these things will help you to become well rounded and experienced. And, it will give you a chance to get out of the office setting for a bit

[To comment:larry@larrylitwin.com]


Much more on resumes and cover letters

(To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com)

As you you know, I am bullish on perfection when it comes to resumes and especially cover letters. Number 70 under Student Resources>Handouts on my website contains many excellent examples. Below is a link to Cherry Hill Public Library blog that says it all. It is really good stuff. Absorb it. It reinforces everything I preach when I get going — and you know when I get going I just go on and on and on.

Enjoy! Here’s the link…(thanks to Katie Hardesty, Rowan class of ’02 for this. Katie is editor of both “The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook” and “The ABCs of Strategic Communication” which just happens to now be included in PRSA’s definition of public relations. Way to go Katie H.)


(To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com)

Cover Letter confusion

Cover Letter confusion

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]

For some reason, I’ve gotten a number of questions – this past week – about the importance of cover letters. Rather than give my opinion, this week’s blog offers others’ comments and a number of links.

Purdue (University’s) Online Writing Lab (link through www.larrylitwin.com or http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/549/01/) says it much better than I:

A cover letter introduces you and your resume to potential employers or organizations you seek to join (non-profits, educational institutions, etc.). It is the first document an employer sees, so it is often the first impression you will make. Take advantage of this important first impression and prepare the reader for your application, stating why you are writing, why you are a good match for the job and the organization, and when you will contact him or her.

Cover letters do more than introduce your resume, though. A cover letter’s importance also includes its ability to:

  • Explain your experiences in a story-like format that works with the information provided in your resume
  • Allow you to go in-depth about important experiences/skills and relate them to job requirements
  • Show the employer that you are individualizing (tailoring) this job application
  • Provide a sample of your written communication skills

Another link, “Cover Letter Myths,” says, “Exposing Cover Letter Myths”

Your cover letter is a first impression to potential employers. If you expect to be a successful job seeker, you’ll want to know how to attract positive attention with your cover letter, while avoiding common mistakes.

Believing the myths that follow can kill your cover letter before it has a chance to sell your skills.

It’s okay to send your resume without a cover letter

False! Unless you like to send your resume into other people’s trashcans, make sure that a cover letter accompanies your resume.

Here is that link: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/exposing-cover-letter-myths.html rCareer Builder says this in “Cover Letter Dos and Don’ts”: Most people are familiar with the importance of a well-constructed resume, and put a fair amount of time into creating one. But just as important is the cover letter that accompanies and introduces your resume.

In an extremely competitive job market, neglecting your cover letter is a big mistake. Why? A cover letter is your first opportunity to tell a prospective employer about yourself, and to do so in your own words. Like a written interview, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to point out applicable experience and qualities that make you right for the job. And just like any other important job searching tool, there are definite dos and don’ts to follow to make sure your cover letter is an asset, not a hindrance.

Here is that link:  http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-160-Cover-Letters-Resumes-Cover-Letter-Dos-and-Donts/

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]

Looking for job? Take advantage of holiday season

Kaitlin Madden of CareerBuilder, has some advice about making the most of holiday parties.  To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com.

She says, “Create connections that lead to future job opportunities.”

First of all, Madden suggests “being friendly with those you meet. They may provide important connections or job leads later on.” Madden lists these five tips:

1. Find a connection

2. Present a professional front.

3. Don’t be late.

4. Be interested, not interesting.

5. Don’t force the work subject.

You can check out Kaitlin Madden — and should — using Google or another search engine. She has excellent tips, including what to wear. Please keep in mind, “You are always communicating,” say Jack Horner and Mike Gross (Rowan ’03) of Jack Horner Communications.

Paul DeNucci, author, The International Networker says, “Remember that events are never about you. The way to win friends and great contacts is to make others comfortable in your presence. Be interested, not interesting.”

Advice from Larry Litwin, “Keep your business card handy. Be ready for an exchange as you complete your elevator speech.”

Remember: YOU are a brand. Package tourself properly.

Madden offers this “What to wear” advice.

In general, when picking out an outfit, Lupo offers the following guidelines:

  • Look polished, not overdone.
  • Remember that you are sending out a message about yourself professionally in the way you dress, and you want to be sure that your message is consistent. Tomorrow morning, you will wake-up and go to work with these people — conduct yourself accordingly.
  • Always be tasteful, not overtly sexy. If you’re on the fence between something sexy and something more conservative, go conservative.
  • Remember Visual Therapy’s rules. Ask yourself: Do I love it? Is it flattering? Is this the image I want to portray? Is this comfortable?  (This includes shoes, ladies!)

To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com.

Resumes and interviews

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]

The link below takes you to important handouts on www.larrylitwin.com. You are encouraged to download them as you move toward internships and jobs. Lots of good luck. http://larrylitwin.com/handouts.html

Handouts No. 29, 30, 62, 64 and 65. (As time permits, peruse other handouts.)

Also, check out previous week’s blogs about these important topics. If you have questions, do NOT hesitate to write: larry@larrylitwin.com.

Be sure to look through The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook and The ABCs of Strategic Communication. Both have successful/proven techniques that could help you nail down that internship and/or job. Good luck!

Internship Follow Up

“Ragan’s PR Daily” has pubished Jeremy Porter’s “9 things to do at the end of your internship.” This is a MUST read for all of MY students and others serving (present and past) internships. To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com. [See next week’s blog on the latest Gallup Poll on public school confidence. The results are not good.]







Did you do an internship this summer? If
so, congrats, you’re a smart cookie.

Internships are 100 percent the No. 1 thing you’ll need on your resume to get
that first job after college. The No. 2 thing you’ll need is proof you can
write. Guess where you get that writing experience? Yep—internships.

To round out the list—and some will disagree with me on this—the No. 3 thing
you need to land a job after college is connections. Again, if you play your
cards right, you get some through internships.

If you did just put your internship to bed, or you’re about to, there are a few
things I’d like you to do on your way out the door:

1. Say thank you.

Personally thank everyone you’ve worked with this summer. A handwritten note is
my preference, but a sincere, verbal “thanks for the experience” is the minimum
requirement. Provide specifics and leave the door open for future contact. For
example: “I really wanted to thank you for the time you spent with me this
summer. I know my knowledge on X, or what you taught me about Y will be useful
in my career. I look forward to staying in touch as I continue my education or
begin my search for my first job.”

2. Get connected.

Make sure you have people’s business cards. Make sure you’re following everyone
on Twitter (or are subscribed to their blog). And for Pete’s sake, make sure
you connect with them on LinkedIn. Turnover is high in PR and journalism;
LinkedIn goes with people from job to job. This is how you’ll build your
network over time. It’s important.

BONUS: If you did a great job in your internship (be honest, you know if
you did or not), ask the highest-ranking person you worked with to recommend
you on LinkedIn. Don’t be shy about this—endorsements on LinkedIn can save you
time later on when you need references. Make it easier for the reference writer
by giving them some starter points.

For example: “Would you please write a recommendation for me on LinkedIn based
on the work I did this summer? It would be great if you could comment on the
work I did on project X or your satisfaction with the writing I did on Y.”

Whatever it was that you did, having somebody comment on your work does a
couple of things. It draws attention to you in their network, and it
sticks with your profile for a long time.

3. Get your samples.

I hope you’ve been collecting copies of the work you did this summer. In most
cases, the work you’ve done at your internship is the legal property of the
agency or its clients. Make sure you ask your supervisor for permission to use
those work samples in your portfolio. You’ll want electronic or hard copies of
all the work you did this summer, because there’s no guarantee you can access
this stuff later. Websites get replaced. Blog posts get deleted.

You might not think some of the things you worked on are relevant, but believe
me, they will be. Save them all so you can customize your portfolio for each
interview you do when you start your search.

4. Get coached.

You might be awesome. You might not. Regardless of what you think about
yourself and your performance in this internship, ask your supervisor to
suggest three areas you can improve on, based on his or her observations this
summer. Tell them you want them to be brutally honest with you, because it’s
the only way you’re going to improve. People would tell me how great my writing
was in my internship, but when I look back a lot of it was sloppy and littered
with errors (you know, like a lot of my blog posts). I wish they would have
told me to keep working on my writing and editing, and that attention to detail
is important.

5. Keep working?

Is there something you’ve done so well this summer that everyone is talking
about it? Are people sad you’re leaving, because you don’t be able to do that
thing anymore? Suggest to your boss that you keep doing it as a freelancer
while you go to school. When I did my first internship in New York, I put
together monthly clipping reports for clients (copies of all the press mentions
for the month). They were a lot of work back then. I suggested I do the work
from my dorm room in upstate New York. The company bought me a computer, leased
a copier, and paid me a very good rate to do the reports each month.

This type of opportunity is not the norm, but if you do something exceptional,
you might be able to gain valuable work experience (and make some money) while
you finish your coursework.

6. Stay in touch.

If you don’t keep working with them, be sure to stay in touch. Keep the lines
of communication open. Let people know what interesting stuff you’re learning
in school. Attend local Public Relations Society of America or press club
events so you can socialize with former co-workers. Interview your co-workers
for class projects (or consider inviting them to speak to one of your classes).
Of course, if you’re following them on Twitter or Facebook, you can interact on
a regular basis through those channels as well.

7. Say only good stuff.

There’s a chance you didn’t have a good experience this summer. Don’t talk
about it publicly; it will get back to the agency. I’m not suggesting you lie
to anybody, just don’t go around bashing the company that gave you a shot. (It
will make people wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.) It’s
OK to warn future internships professionally about what to expect, but keep it
professional. Along the same lines, keep proprietary information confidential.
Don’t talk about the new products clients are working on or their secrets to
getting coverage in The New York Times. This will strengthen your own
reputation over the course of your career.

8. Don’t burn bridges.

As an extension of No. 7, I have one “don’t” for the end of your internship.
Don’t burn bridges. Even if you hated working with somebody with every ounce of
your soul, don’t tell that person off on your last day. Don’t decide you’re
never going to talk to that person again. It’s a mistake. If you follow the
suggestions early on in this post with everyone you worked with this summer,
you’ll establish a firm foundation for your network to grow in the future.

9. Share your experience.

You learned a lot this summer. Don’t keep it all to yourself. Blog about it.
Talk about it in class. Encourage other students to pursue the same
opportunities. Use that experience to fuel you. Learn more, keep practicing,
and you will succeed. Share your experience and others will succeed with
you—and that’s what it’s all about.

Jeremy Porter is the founder of the blog Journalistics,
where a version of this story appeared.


Resumes — More KEY words

To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com

Thanks to careerbuilder.com printed in “Courier-Post” on Sunday, June 26, 2011, here are more resume hints. Key words:

1. created

2. increased

3. reduced

4. improved

5. developed

6. researched

7. accomplished

8. won

9. on time

10. under budget

Avoid THESE “empty, overused words:

1. outstanding

2. effective

3. strong

4. exceptional

5. good

6. excellent

7. driven

8. motivayed

9. seasoned

10. energetic

“Tell (hiring managers) what makes you the most profitable choice for the job and employers will tell you the best word of all — ‘hiredCheck out


Tips for the Job Hunter

This appeared in “Courier-Post” on Sunday, March 6, 2011. Read Eileen Smith’s full story at http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20110306/NEWS01/103060347/How-job-seekers-got-hear-yes-?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]


Get the word out and tell people you are looking. Include former colleagues at every place you have ever worked, fellow members in clubs and business groups, former classmates, friends, neighbors and people at your house of worship.

Help others. Reach out if you learn of a job that might be a good match for someone else.

Press the flesh. Find ways to interact with other people at least five times a week. Attend meetings of professional groups. Go to parties. Hit the gym. Volunteer.

Print business cards with your name and contact information and hand them out to people you meet.

Set up a designated job search area in your home. You must have a phone with voice mail or an answering machine, a computer with Internet access and a good filing system.

Keep your energy up through exercise, healthy eating and meditation.

Ask other people for advice, even if they cannot offer you a job. Most folks genuinely want to help.

Set yourself apart from the pack. You might stop by to visit former clients and deliver a copy of your resume in person. Do not rely solely on the Internet to apply for jobs.

Use social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook to keep in touch. Show discretion, as prospective employers may be watching.

Follow up. Send thank you notes. If you do not get the job, ask what qualifications were the deciding factor for the person who was hired.

For more on Thank You Notes, check out Chapter 15 in “The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook (See, www.larrylitwin.com. It is available in hard copy and for the Kindle, iPad and iPhone.)

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]

Keep resume clutter free – Part 2

Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. This piece ran on Sunday Feb. 13. [To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com.] Last week: what NOT to put on your resume.

Appropriate resumé length is a pretty consistent subject of debate among human resources professionals. Some will tell you that your resumé should be one page, max; others will say no longer than two pages — or that it doesn’t matter either way. But there’s one thing that most resumé experts can agree on. No matter the length, resumé real estate is valuable, and only the most important and relevant information should be privy to this prime locale.

While only you can decide what is important enough for your resumé, there are a few things that definitely don’t belong there.

1. Your interests: Your resumé is a professional document, bottom line. “While I always find it amusing that you like rollerblading and good red wine, please don’t tell me this (on your resumé),” says Elizabeth Lions, author of “Recession Proof Yourself.” “I want work-related experience only.” In addition to being off-topic, a long list of outside interests and hobbies may cause a potential employer to worry that you’re over-committed — a definite red flag.

2. An objective statement: Objective statements that outline what you’re looking for in a job or employer are a waste of space. “As a career coach I’m constantly counseling clients to remove this paragraph because it takes up critical real estate on your resumé and (this information is) better discussed in your cover letter,” says Lisa quays, president of Seattle-based career coaching firm Career Woman Inc. “Don’t waste valuable space on your resumé with what I call a ‘fluff’ paragraph.”

3. Salary history: Including a salary history on your resumé will turn any employer off, since you’ll give off the impression that money is your main concern. Plus, if the employer sees that you’re “too expensive” they may disqualify you, and if your salary is on the low side, you may end up with a lowball offer should you get the job.

“(It’s best to) discuss your salary history and expectations during your interview process,” says Sharon Abboud, author of “All Moms Work — Short-Term Career Strategies for Long-Range Success.”

4. Dates of anything you did more than 15 years ago: “You may be giving your resumé to someone who wasn’t even born when you had your first job. If you date yourself so far back, you may set yourself up for age discrimination,” says Kristen Fischer, a certified professional resumé writer from New Jersey.

Agrees abound, “Don’t include the dates of your college graduation if you graduated more than 15 years ago. Just list the name of the college and the degree that you received.”

5. A GPA below 3.25: Anything under that is considered to be average, so why waste space by including something that classifies you as such? Focus on the things that give you a leg up on the competition instead. Have you been out of college for more than 10 years? Take the GPA off altogether. “GPA after a certain level of experience and years in the work force is so unnecessary,” says Tiffani Murray, owner of career consulting firm PersonalityOnAPage.com. “If you have been working for 10-plus years and are now in middle management it is safe to assume that you either had a good GPA or have made up for it through hands-on work.”

6. An unprofessional e-mail address: “Don’t include an overly personalized e-mail address such as ‘atlhousewife2@gmail.com‘ or ‘ilovecats24@yahoo.com,’ ” Murray advises. “This can make recruiters take your resumé less seriously.”

7. Marital or family status: Besides being irrelevant, including this information on your resumé can actually make an employer uncomfortable, because it is illegal for them to take such information into account. “It is none of the employer’s business and it is illegal for an interviewer to ask you about your marital status or the number of or ages of your children during your interview (so why include it on your resumé?)” Abboud says.

8. Your references: “These are personal to you and you should control when an employer calls them,” Lions says. “Don’t give me your power.” There is also no need to specify that “references are available upon request.”

9. Activities with religious or political affiliations: These topics are polarizing, and while recruiters shouldn’t take them into account, it’s better to be on the safe side.

10. Your picture: This isn’t the Miss America pageant. Employers aren’t going to be more inclined to hire you because you included a glamour shot. In fact, they may even be more prone to not contact you. “Please don’t include a picture,” Lions says. “If I want to see what you look like, I can find it on LinkedIn.”

Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz.